Ferriday’s Woods earns Coach of Year recognition

Published 12:02 am Sunday, December 25, 2016

For four games into the 2016 campaign, the Ferriday football season was not heading in the direction as initially planned.

The following nine weeks were more like what was expected.

After a sluggish 2-2 start, Ferriday coach Dwight Woods and his Trojans righted the ship and won five of their final six regular-season games before falling in the LHSAA Class 2A playoff quarterfinals.

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For their efforts, Woods was selected as The Natchez Democrat’s Coach of the Year.

“Anytime you win an award it’s a great accomplishment, especially in this area with so many great coaches, like (Adams County Christian School) Coach (David) King and (Vidalia High School) Coach (Jeff) Hancock,” Woods said. “But I look at that award, and it’s a testament to the staff and the hard work they’ve been putting in and time away from families.  A lot of guys make a whole lot of sacrifices to make the team successful. It’s a testament to the people around you, from the principal and everyone on down to help you be successful.”

Ferriday’s turnaround started on Sept. 30 at Washington-Marion after the LHSAA Class 2A Trojans recorded a 26-15 win over the Class 3A foe and former Ferriday coach Freddie Harrison.

From there, the Trojans flexed their muscles, utilizing a stingy defense along with a playmaking offense en route to becoming one of the state’s top 2A teams the final two months of the season.

“After we went to Lake Charles (Washington-Marion), you could see a different attitude with the kids,” Woods said.

Ferriday’s lone remaining regular season loss came on the road to eventual state champion Sterlington High School, a 34-30 defeat.

The Trojans, however, would rebound to knock off district rivals Mangham and Ouachita Christian to claim a share of the District 2-2A title.

“We started to play together and get over injuries that we had earlier in the year,” Woods said.

Ferriday then continued its hot streak with postseason wins over Northeast and Loreauville high schools.

“One of the things we had been telling kids is that they had to have confidence and that they could play with better teams in the state,” Woods said. “And they started to believe it later in the year.”

The following week, Ferriday’s season would end in Baton Rouge with a 44-24 loss to eventual state runner-up Madison Prep Academy.

Several costly turnovers came back to bite Ferriday in the end as the Trojans fell despite out-gaining the Chargers 447-321 total yards in the quarterfinal contest.

“Those things happen,” Woods said of the turnovers from that night. “That’s part of the game, and that will help the kids realize they need to be more focused.

“Sometimes you need a little bit of luck. It wasn’t on our side that night.”

Woods, a coaching veteran of nearly two decades, said despite the disappointing end to the year, the 2016 season was a campaign on which Ferriday can build.

The Trojans will have to replace standout quarterback Ronald Williams, in addition to other key pieces,  but return defensive stalwarts in linebacker Lewis Matthews and national recruit Dare Rosenthal, defensive tackle. The Trojans also return a bevy of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, including 6-foot-4 receiving threat Dantrieze Scott.

“We think we’ll have the opportunity for some success the next few years,” Woods said. “The middle school kids coming up will be significant players as well.

“We think we’ll be able to sustain our success.”